24 Under 24 (2012): #1 Darren Mattocks (IMAGE)
Gabriel de los Rios / MLSsoccer.com

24 Under 24: #1 Darren Mattocks, Vancouver Whitecaps

1. Darren Mattocks

Pos: F | Vancouver Whitecaps | Age: 22

Electric. When Vancouver rookie Darren Mattocks is on the field, things happen. Sometimes it’s the extraordinary, like his goal in Portland or his “Air Mattocks” leap in Toronto. But there’s also the combustible that comes with the Jamaican: the feistiness, the cards and that glare. He oozes self-belief and confidence. He knows the next goal is only minutes away. It’s that attitude that led the No. 2 overall SuperDraft pick to react this way after a preseason goal against Montreal: “They didn’t choose me No. 1, and I showed them they made a mistake.” If he can help Vancouver become the first Canadian team ever to make the MLS Cup playoffs, he’ll have made his case loud and clear.

What the TDs and coaches like: “Phenomenal talent … He has tremendous physical tools and he’s got a nose for the goal … He is an exciting player … He has explosive speed … He’s great in the air and can score all kinds of goals … He’s a real handful for defenders and he’s a very exciting prospect. … When we scouted him in college, we knew that he’s a special player … Mattocks is special … His top end, his ceiling, is much higher than a lot of other young guys in this league right now … He’s got poise, he’s got pace, he has wonderful athletic ability and he has a nose for the goal … A tremendous athlete, makes intelligent runs and is good in 1v1 situations … main asset is his speed, has a nose for the slashing run … He’s going to be great in the MLS. He’ll become a terrific player.”

Where TDs and coaches want improvement: “The question is going to be his temperament. Can he remain calm? Can he stay focused in the game? … As a forward, when you’re good, you become a marked man. This is a physical league. Can he, week-in, week-out, be mentally tough enough to deal with that? That’s going to be the question mark with him. … I think once he figures out the game and matures a little bit as a kid, I think the sky’s the limit for a kid like that … For him, it’s just about getting the opportunity to play … The things he needs to work on are probably his finishing and practicing the normal stuff … He’s a good finisher, but he can be wild at times ... Lacks maturity and overall defensive awareness ... Needs to learn what he has to do in case of a turnover ... Not a great header of the ball in the box ... With some fine-tuning, he can become a complete player.”

Opta Says: Only one player younger than 24 has more goals than Darren Mattocks (7) in MLS this year (Houston’s Will Bruin with 11).

Tale of the Tape
Last Year in 24U24: N/A
Fan Ranking: #5
Castrol Index (as of 9/21/12): #28

2012 Stats
Matches played: 17
Matches started: 12
Goals: 7
Assists: 1

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